So, What do the Players Get? A Look at the Influx of Esports Funding
So most people of the Esports and traditional sports worlds know that there was a marriage of sorts in the competitive world. This is the first (and second) of its kind: two Esports teams being bought out by the owners of a professional sports team. The Co-owners of the Philadelphia 76ers bought Team Dignitas and Apex Gaming. The less covered merger is AOL co-founder Steve Case, Magic Johnson, and the duo of Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber and entrepreneur Ted Leonsis investing into Team Liquid, with Peter Guber purchasing the controlling share.
But with most marriages or relationships, whether it’s martial or business, there are pro’s and con’s. But how will it truly affect the community? And more importantly, how will affect the players? Especially with the announcement of Blizzard establishing an Overwatch league that will be working with professional sports teams, will the players be well funded like in the NBA, or get nothing while the teams and owners get the money, like the NCAA?
Everyone is talking about how good this is for the Esports community, and they are correct. It is an excellent way for them to gather funds and hopefully new viewers. The NBA owners bringing consultants in to help show the owners how Esports are actually operated is a great progressive way to help out and move forward. Esports can potentially be a billion dollar affair.
But going back to the players, where do they sit in this business partnership? Everyone has to remember we have the players to thank for actually playing the matches, doing the streaming and showing us the basics of the games with their twitch accounts and more. But they already get close to nothing for what they do for the company. The main concern is not them getting exposure, as that will come along. But them not getting paid. There are already a couple teams as examples. Some are still pending and some were taking care off by the leagues themselves. Here are a couple of prime examples of the players being taken advantage of by professional Esports teams.
One example of Esports teams not paying their players is Paradigm, specifically the former Smite team. A quick run down is Paradigm and its players were having contract disputes. The organization had a clause in the contract that only let the players make 1 dollar a month, not per match, per month. As with most MOBAs, they had their own personal skin and items in the game itself. The issue with that is the organization asked for 100% and the players got nothing. They didn’t even get a flat rate for the items. This is one of the many examples showing that the Esports community can become like the NCAA.
One thing that is different from Esports compared to the NCAA is that the organizations will mainly take the side of the players. This is a great thing due to the fact that the players have no actual power for negotiating a decent contract. There are older streamers such as DM Bradon that will look at contracts and make sure that the players are decently compensated.
One example of the league siding with the players is with the Paradigm Esports team in Smite. The league allowing the players to leave Paradigm after the first split and play until they signed with a new team, which ended up to be Orbitz. League of Legends also sides with the players in these contract disputes to make sure the players are properly compensated. One of the bigger examples is when Team Impulse actually got fined and had to sell their slot in the LCS.
Team Impulse was fined $20,000 and had to sell its slot after a routine audit found out that the team didn’t pay the players in a proper manner, or at all. This is crazy, as they did the work already and management “forgot” to pay for the work somebody did.
With the infusion of professional sports money going into Esports, I believe that there is an issue where the money will be top heavy and will end up in the team’s pocket instead of the players. The main question however is as follows: ill the players be fairly compensated, or will they become indentured servants of their favorite hobby?
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